University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Audit of Sex and Gender Medicine Topics in Preclinical School of Medicine Curriculum

Kendall Trieglaff, BS; Madeline J. Zamzow, BS; Bryn Sutherland, BA; Amy Farkas, MD, MS; Sandra Pfister, PhD

WMJ. 2023;122(4):243-249

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Introduction: The importance of the inclusion of sex and gender medicine (SGM) in medical education has been recognized formally by both the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Department of Health and Human Services since 1995. Yet, few medical schools, including the Medical College of Wisconsin, have a standard SGM curriculum. This work mapped the SGM health topics taught in the Medical College of Wisconsin preclinical curriculum.

Methods: Seven medical students audited 16 basic science preclinical courses in 2020-2021. SGM characterizations, including epidemiology, diagnosis, presentation, treatment, prognosis, pharmacology, and disparity, were captured by an online survey tool. Comparisons were made to 38 high-yield topics presented in the textbook “How Sex and Gender Impact Clinical Practice: An Evidence-Based Guide to Patient Care.”

Results: Of the 604 preclinical sessions audited, 54% contained some SGM content. Epidemiology was the most common characterization (23% of total). Thirty-four of the 38 high-yield clinical SGM topics received mention in the basic science sessions. Breast cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, sex and gender considerations in therapeutic response, and systemic lupus erythematosus had the most frequent SGM-specific coverage (representation in at least 4 of the 16 preclinical courses).

Conclusions: Utilizing a medical student cohort to thoroughly audit courses was an effective way to document that Medical College of Wisconsin preclinical curriculum introduces many clinically relevant SGM topics. However, the audit also discovered varying levels of detail among the high-yield topics with concern that students may not be adequately prepared to treat all patients. These results establish the groundwork for a more formalized and integrated approach to include SGM in preclinical curriculum.

Author Affiliations: Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Trieglaff, Zamzow, Sutherland); Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, MCW, and Milwaukee VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wis (Farkas); The Robert D and Patricia E Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, MCW, Milwaukee, Wis (Farkas, Pfister); Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Kern Institute, MCW, Milwaukee, Wis (Pfister).
Corresponding Author: Sandra Pfister, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 414.955.8265; email; ORCID ID 0000-0001-5728-0670
Acknowledgments: The authors wish to thank Peter Johnson, Ramneet Mann, Nnenna Nwaelugo, and Andrea Rossman, the MCW M2 students who completed survey data for all the M2 preclinical courses. Special words of gratitude to Tavinder Ark, PhD, (director, Data Science Lab, Kern Institute) and Karl Stamm, PhD, (data analyst, Kern Institute) for suggestions and advice on analyzing survey data. The guidance on recruiting students by Robert Casanova, MD, (Texas Tech University Health Science Center) was much appreciated.
Funding/Support: Student stipends were supported by two learning resource projects (LRP) through MCW Academic Affairs, Curriculum and Evaluation Committee. (LRP#1: Engaging Students in Identifying Sex and Gender Topics in MCW Curriculum; LRP#2: Sex and Gender Medicine: Utilizing Audit of Sex and Gender Differences Taught in Preclinical Course to Drive Integration of SGM into MCW Curriculum; SP was principal investigator on both projects).
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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